The U.S. Embassy in South Africa, through its Office of Defense Cooperation, has provided 12 400 protective masks to the South African Military Health Service (SAMHS) to assist the country’s efforts to combat COVID-19.
U.S. Embassy personnel delivered the masks to the Pretoria Military District, Pretoria West, on 23 April. The FFP2 (filtering face piece particles) respirator masks are approved by the European Union and are the equivalent of the N95 respirator mask used in the United States.
“This donation of potentially life-saving masks is indicative of the respect and value we hold for our partnership with South Africa and SANDF’s Military Health Service. Their COVID-19 response has been commendable and we support them on this crucial mission of supporting the people of South Africa,” said U.S. Ambassador Lana Marks.
“The South African National Defence Force and South African Military Health Service are key components of the national COVID-19 response. The United States Department of Defense is excited to assist our South African partners by procuring locally-sourced PPE. We hope this cements the strong relationship we share, and that the PPE will save South African lives,” said U.S. Navy Captain Steven Morgenfeld, the Senior Defense Attaché at the U.S. Embassy.
This initial contribution of equipment comes in the wake of regular and increasing financial assistance contributions from the United States to South Africa to combat COVID-19. To date, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has committed $13.2 million in funding, along with $8.4 million in assistance through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). This brings the total U.S. government commitment to South Africa’s COVID-19 response to over $21.5 million (R410 million), the US Embassy said.
Additionally, through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the United States is supporting up to 5 400 community healthcare workers to assist with the South African government’s community COVID-19 screening campaign and provide HIV treatment support on the front lines. This builds upon a strong foundation of $7.2 billion in U.S. government public health assistance to South Africa over the past two decades, the US Embassy concluded.